This weekend I was able to head back to Angkor Borei for a quick trip with an archaeologist friend to do a little recon work and see how the Angkor Borei museum is doing. We then headed up to see the nearby sites of Phnom Da, Ashram Maha Rosei, and then Phnom Chiso and some magical Yoan (inscriptions). I’ve written a bit about these sites already, so after the jump check out some new photos.
Angkor Borei District Hall that also houses the small local museum
The Angkor Borei Museum primarily contains replicas of famous pre-Angkorian statues (from the Angkor Borei/Phnom Da region) that are now housed in the National Museum in Phnom Penh and the Musee Guimet in Paris. They are some of the earliest and best known examples of Khmer sculpture. It also has a fairly substantial collection of Funan-era ceramics almost all of which were donated by locals who found them on their property.
On the way to the nearby temple of Phnom Da we passed by a portion of the massive wall enclosing Angkor Borei. In 2005, this wall had been cut into by a villager who was going to be building a house and we were able to take a closer look at it. In the few years since then the wall has eroded substantially.
Here’s a closer look at the moat surrounding the city.
Phnom Da hasn’t changed much since I was there in 2005.
The view from Phnom Da is a bit more wet now than it was in 2005.
Ashram Maha Rosei also looking good.
One of the kids who was showing us around was climbing on the temple.
With plenty of time to spare we decided to stop at Phnom Chiso on the way back to Phnom Penh. Phnom Chiso is one of my favorite places in Cambodia. It’s a beautiful location with an amazing view and the Angkorian temple isn’t an abandoned ruin but an active and living temple site. Not much has changed since I was there a few months ago, although the monks or local achaas (អាចារ្យ) have taken to decorating some of the smaller structures around the main temple and installing them with new statues (of Neak Ta??). Here are a few examples
I really like that this guy is holding a teapot
Here’s an ancient Linga that is in the main temple. The achaa said it was part of the original temple
Here’s what the main temple looks like. When we arrived several older men were in there taking their lunch-time naps. Unlike most empty, smelly, cave-like Angkorian ruins, this one is quite cozy!
Buddha statues (hidden) and Vishnu in the foreground at the main temple.
Another very special part of this temple is that the a couple of the achaa make yoan (យ័ន្) which are magical protective drawings/inscriptions on pieces of cloth. The yoan can also be put on other materials such as tattoos on your body or silver. There are some neat photos of a monk drawing yoan on a piece of silver from Erik Davis’ flickr stream here and here. My Khmer language skillz have improved since my last visit so I tried asking them a few more questions. The achaa are very friendly and happy to talk about the temple. One of the achaa had been living there for 7 years. Another, who said he was 71, said he’d been at the temple for a long time and had come there specifically to make yoan. My language comprehension is not so high so that was the extent of my conversation with them.
Here’s what the yoan looked like. They are written in Khmer but one achaa said that some of his were written in Sanskrit. (Although It looks like he was writing Sanskrit words in Khmer script- any one know for sure?)
These only go for $1. Magic is cheap!